Unique Intramural Sport at St. James Schools
The grade 4 to 8 students at St. James Catholic School in Lively play organized goalball at lunch recess. A total of 27 teams participate in this game for the blind that is gaining in popularity around the world. The game was introduced to St. James school by Mr. Adriano Simonato, Specialist Teacher of the Blind and Partially Sighted.
The object of the game is to roll a rubber ball with bells inside past the opposing team. Each goalball team is made up of three players with each protecting their goal line. There is one center and two wings per team. The offensive team rolls the ball in an attempt to get the ball past the opposing three players. The defensive team listens for the approaching of the ball and attempts to prevent or block the ball from crossing the goal line. When a defending player gains possession, it is then his or her team’s turn to throw at the opposing team’s goal. The only time there is a stoppage of play is after a goal has been scored, or if the ball crosses a sideline. The ball is rolled back and forth with the offensive and defensive team alternating until time expires for the half. The game is played in two periods of 5 to 10 minutes each and the team with the most points wins. The game is played on a rectangular court, which is divided into two halves by a centre line. The goals, which are the same width as the court, are placed at each end.
There are three main rules associated with throwing the ball. First, a thrown ball must touch the floor of the court before passing over the highball (or centre) line. Secondly, a throw must take place within eight to ten seconds of coming under the control of the defending team. Passing can take place within that time. Thirdly, no player may take more than two consecutive throws for his team. A number of personal and team penalties maybe awarded for rule infractions. During the game, spectators must remain absolutely silent so that players can follow the direction of the ball. Spectators can applaud or cheer after a goal is scored and at the end of each half. Each player has to wear a blindfold regardless of the degree of visual impairment. Each player has the option to wear elbow pads, kneepads, hip pads and face protection. There are women’s and men’s teams with no variations in equipment or rules.
Too many people who are visually impaired or blind usually do not have many opportunities to be involved in team sports and physical activity. According to Simonato, “one of the great benefits of goalball is that it promotes teamwork and cooperation among participants. Also, because goalball can be played by individuals who are sighted and visually impaired together, it acts as a medium for breaking down barriers. As a result it helps promote awareness within the school community regarding what individuals who are visually impaired can do”.